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EGRA Press Release                                                  11 Sept 2007

Alarm at Plan to Increase Households in Guildford by about a Quarter

 

The Inspectors’ report on the Examination in Public of the South East Plan was published in August 2007. “It is very bad news for Guildford” says EGRA Chairman Graham Hibbert.  “If the Inspectors’ plans go unchallenged, Guildford would undergo major expansion without any of the services and investment in facilities needed to support such growth.  We seriously doubt that, as a gap town in the Surrey Hills, Guildford could cope with being expanded into a major regional hub.”  

The Inspectors recommend that the housing provision in the South East be increased and that growth be targeted on the Regional Hubs, particularly Oxford and Guildford.

The housing provision in Guildford will increase by 31%, from 322 to 422 dwellings per year to cope with migration into Guildford, mainly from London. EGRA believes that Guildford will never be able to satisfy the overflow demand from London.

The Plan proposes that;

·         By 2026, the number of households in Guildford Town will increase by about a quarter. 

·         Guildford is identified as one of the town centres to undergo the most significant change.

·         Green Belt land, to the North East of Guildford, will be developed.

These are eye catching headlines, but they are not the biggest threat to Guildford.

The Draft South East Plan Policies CC5 and LF5 state that “development will not proceed until the infrastructure required to serve the development is available or will be provided in time”.

The Inspectors recommend deleting this condition because, in their view, it is not realistic to expect the infrastructure to be provided in a timely manner.

Investment in infrastructure was identified as a key issue in the Draft Plan, because “Underinvestment in the past has had an adverse impact on the economic performance of the region, it has also resulted in an increased environmental impact and reduced quality of life for the citizens of the region”. This is particularly true of Guildford, where development is constrained by the North Downs.

EGRA does not share the inspectors “hope” that infrastructure will be provided. Past performance shows that this does not happen.

Recent events support the view that that there has been a systematic underinvestment in infrastructure.

·         Increasing journey times and congested roads

·         Too much water in 2007

·         Not enough water in 2006

·         Sewage overflow in 2000

EGRA calls for the principle that “development will not proceed” until “the infrastructure required to serve the development is available or will be provided in time” to be re-instated.

Infrastructure includes Health Care, Schools, Utilities, Flood Prevention, Roads and Transport. Guildford is currently vulnerable to inadequate sewage disposal and water storage, leaky pipes, poor drainage and grid-locked roads. Proceeding with the proposed development without a commitment to invest in the infrastructure would be folly.

Research for the Draft Plan showed that this was the view of the majority of the elected councils, unitary authorities, county councils and the people who live in the South East. It would be very undemocratic to ignore the will of the people.

In conclusion, EGRA would support some development to meet Guildford’s needs, but has major doubts as to the town’s capacity to cope with the scale of development proposed by the Panel and insists that all development must be done properly.

An excellent resume of what the Panel proposes for development in Guildford is available on the Guildford Society website (http://guildfordsociety.org.uk) written by Dr John Baylis.

Editors Notes:

1)      EGRA (East Guildford’s Residents’ Associations) is the umbrella organisation for residents’ associations in East Guildford. Members comprise associations in Abbotswood, Burpham, Chantry View, Clandon, Cranley Road Area, Downsedge, Holy Trinity, Merrow, Shalford and Tyting.

2)      EGRA represents residents from over 2500 membership households in Guildford, who are concerned with the development of Guildford as a whole and not just with their own specific areas.

3)      The Chairman is Dr Graham Hibbert (grahamhibbert@msn.com; tel: 01483 535071), the Secretary is Mr Jim Rattray (jim.rattray@lineone.net; tel: 01483 303170)

EGRA

11 September 2007